Making Lily Pads for Model Railroad Water Scenes

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When it comes to model railroad layouts, it’s the tiniest details that create realism and separate good scenes from remarkable ones. A customized sign here, a mini scene there–small touches make viewers focus in and pay attention to all that your scene has to offer. This fact applies especially to model railroad water scenes, where there’s a big difference between a basic creek without any focal points and a well detailed lake that holds the viewer’s eye. Your goal for model railroad water scenes should be to make it as realistic as possible, and real bodies of water have a lot more going on than just the H2O. In this lesson, we teach you how to add a very subtle detail that takes a model railroad water scene from, “Huh, that’s nice” to “Wow, look at that detail!”

Creating small but important model railroad water details

So we know that seemingly minor details can bump a model railroad water scene from impressive to captivating, but what exactly do we mean by minor details? Well, one thing we can include to a water scene is lifelike vegetation, and what’s a common plant you’ll find on water? That’s right, the lily pad. The watchtower of the frog.

To help you create these tiny little discs, NMRA Expert Modeler Gerry Leone demonstrates a simple technique he likes to use for painting and cutting dozens of floating pads at a time. He shows you how to use three paint colors, plain copy paper, a hole punch and an X-Acto knife to make lily pads with ease. When your viewers get up close to your model railroad water scene and start inspecting its tiniest features, they’ll be amazed when they see that you’ve included such a fine touch as a floating cluster of lily pads. It’s the little things that matter!

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